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Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 327 Monday March 15, 2014

The Stahlratte arrived in Cartagena Harbor at 9:00AM March 6th...right on schedule. All passengers and crew were transported to the dock and taxied to Colombian Immigration and processed into the country. The six of us with motorbikes were sent back to the boat to wait for a barge that arrived at 1:30PM to transport the bikes to the dock where we rode straight to Customs for processing. The Stahlratte had arranged for an agent to meet us there and the processing was done for all in about 1:30 minutes. By far the easiest of any country that I have visited so far.

After customs five of us went to Hostel Amber Cartagena where we stayed for several days and relaxed and touring Cartagena. We were staying about a 10 minute walk from the "Old Town" in Cartagena. I will say that Old Town is the most beautiful town I have yet visited. It is simply spectacular...well preserved, very clean and classy, with many wonderful restaurants, shops and entertainment. If you were to visit Colombia you would not want to miss Cartagena.

The Colombian people are very friendly and helpful. So far my experience is that very few people here speak I am forced to resume learning Spanish again. In Central America I could always find someone that spoke English, but not here.

A concert in Old Town.

The Fortress

Cartagena boasts that have the largest market in South America. It is Big!

This was election night when it was announced that President Uriba was elected to a fourth term.

The parking lot at Hostel Amber.

I left Cartagena and my friends Sheldon and Ewa, David and Jeffery and resumed my solo Adventure. I went up the Caribbean coast to Santa Marta/Taganga for two nights. Taganga is a scuba diving center with some of the cheapest rates of anywhere to learn to scuba dive. It is a lazy fishing village that does not know just what has hit them.

After two nights in Taganga I went to Cebo del Vela. It is further up the Caribbean coast close to the Venezuelan border. Cebo del Vela is in a desert on the coast. It is inhabited by the Wayuu and you can stay with almost any local family, as I did. You'll be sleeping in a hammock or a much more comfortable chinchorros (locally make woolen hammock).

Cebo de la Vela isn't for everyone. Getting here by public transportation involves a bone-shaking ride in the back of a truck (probably a 4X4). The landscape is a brutal scrub desert with the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea bordering it.

I found Cebo a bit too rough for my taste and about 11AM I decided to move along.

Cebo de la Vela is located at the end of the cardinal's beak. This area on the map also boasts the largest flock of flamingos in the Americas, but I missed them.  

There is only one way into and out of Cebo. From Uribia it is about 30km of good gravel road and 10km of desert sand and rock road. On my way back to Uribia the bike went down in a construction zone where I missed judged the firmness of the roads surface. When the bike went down my right leg was pinned under the right pannier. this is the first time that I was trapped under the bike, not a good feeling. The leg was in severe pain and I hoped it was not broken. Luckily a member of the construction crew was near and he lifted the bike off my leg. Upon standing I was immediately able to tell that the leg was not broken, but the foot and ankle were damaged. After getting myself back together I rode on for about five hours and stopped in the town of San Juan del Cesar where I found a room at Hostal El Pedro. After getting the bike unloaded I was finally able to take the boot off and inspect the foot. The foot was so swollen that it was tough getting it out of the boot. Afterwards I cleaned up and became accustomed to the fact that I would have to stay here while the leg healed enough for me to travel again.

San Juan del Cesar is a town of approximately 26,000 inhabitance and it is not used to seeing tourists. I have encountered no one who speaks Ingles.

At the hostel on the first night I hooked up with three men from Bogata who work for a company that is GPS mapping Colombia. We went to a local tienda and sat out front and talked for hours (they in Spanish, me in Ingles). One of the men, Peter, gave me a foot and leg massage that was greatly appreciated.

 Being in San Juan is giving me an opportunity to be among the Colombian people in their setting. Colombia is different that Central America, I can not exactly articulate it yet,  but I like it very much. The people are intensely proud of their country and want to know what I think of Colombia. I may well stay here for a week or longer.

Around 6PM last evening Susan and Scott Nelson from Oregon arrived at Hostel El Pedro. They were among the bikers who sailed on the Stahlratte from San Blas to Cartagena. I could not believe my eyes when I saw them stop in front of the hostel. We had a short visit and they went to get something to eat. We will visit later today.

More will be revealed...

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